Fearless Figure

Where in the Hudson Valley...?



Face the new year with courage, like this small Buddha, which is located in the mid-Valley area on the east side of the Hudson. Perched serenely in the abhaya mudra, the gesture of fearlessness, this Buddha symbolizes protection, peace, and the dispelling of fear — all good things for new beginnings. His gesture indicates friendship and peace to those who pass, perhaps on their way to visit the large Buddhist monastery — with six buildings, a substantial library, and its own lake — that is located behind him.

The monastery’s gigantic main building — which is 84 feet tall and measures 24,000 square feet — was built in the style used during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), a time of great development in the arts and architecture in China. There are no internal pillars supporting the ceiling, which leaves a spacious interior that can house 2,000 people.

When entering the hall, remember to remove your shoes (a sign of respect) before walking onto the wood floor. You also might want to stop and prepare yourself for the building’s main attraction, a 37-foot-tall statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known as the Universal Buddha. The hall was built around the enormous icon, which is the largest indoor Buddha in the Western Hemisphere, and second largest indoor Buddha in the world. Ten thousand small Buddha statues surround him. In 1997, the Dalai Lama visited the monastery and formally dedicated the building.

The grounds of the monastery feature more exquisite Tang dynasty architecture including several prayer halls, dormitories for the monks and nuns, dining facilities, a memorial area, and the library, which holds more than 70,000 volumes in both English and Chinese. The sanctuary also offers various activities, including meditation programs and classes (everything from beginner Buddhism to tai chi). After enjoying these programs, visitors can relax while strolling around the five-acre lake.

Do you know where this serene sculpture stands (both the town and street name)? If you do, E-mail us at edit@hvmag.com; the first reader to identify the correct location wins a prize. Good luck — and have a fearless New Year.